Beige pencil stockists on high alert as 'Colouring Book of Retro Computers' hits the crowdfunding circuit

YouTuber's project already well past its goal


Neil Thomas, host of the RMC vintage computing and gaming YouTube channel, is crowdfunding a colouring book of vintage computing hardware.

Covering the 1970s through to the early 2000s, Thomas's latest nostalgia-grab – following a compact hardback collecting interviews carried out for his YouTube channel – asks backers to keep within the lines as they colour in 30 vintage machines and accessories.

The book has been developed with Stuart "Stoo" Cambridge, an artist best known for his work at British video game house Sensible Software, with three pages currently complete: a Commodore PET, a Sinclair ZX Spectrum, and an Apple II – with 27 other systems as yet confirmed.

"The reference images are taken by me and are of machines we have right here in The Cave. We set them up and send images to Stoo who then works his magic on them," Thomas told The Register of the book's development process. "Stoo will be visiting me soon to agree on 27 more systems."

Those around for that particular era in computer history will spot something of a dearth of interesting colours there: both the Commodore PET and the Apple II were finished in a less-than-alluring beige, while the Sinclair ZX Spectrum bucked the trend with a black-and-grey colour scheme – although it, at least, boasts a small rainbow in one corner.

"That's nothing a little imagination can't overcome," Thomas told us in response to our concerns the book may trigger a global shortage in beige pencils. "We have a lime green Amiga 500 and a traffic cone orange VIC-20 in The Cave which might offer some inspiration, and I've also worked with Stoo to make sure there are lots of fun backgrounds, peripherals, game boxes, and extras in the images to bring more colour to the frames."

The £10 ($14) asking price for the book isn't just to cover design and printing costs: Thomas has earmarked excess funds for the development of a public computer exhibition space, dubbed The Cave and currently an open-plan studio where he films his YouTube videos, housed in an 18th-century mill in Gloucestershire.

Thomas has some competition, however. Early last year Quick Web Books published the Retro Computer Colouring Book, which at £4.50 ($6.25) as a print-on-demand title is less than half the price of Thomas's offering – though its imagery is simpler, and lacks the draw of Stoo Cambridge-penned art.

"There can never be too many retro computer colouring books, in my opinion," Thomas told us, "only too few beige pencils."

The project is off to a storming start, already more than doubling its funding goal on Kickstarter, with over £14,000 (around $19,400) raised at the time of writing – about which Thomas describes himself as "stunned." The books, meanwhile, are due to be sent out to backers in December this year. ®


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